#AerieREAL Reads is back for March with #AerieREAL Role Model, Actor & Writer, Hari Nef, & her pick: Exquisite Mariposa by Fiona Alison Duncan. For an extra bonus, Hari & Fiona are coming to our Spring Street Aerie in NYC thi Thursday, 3.5 for a conversation about Fiona’s novel. If you can’t make it to the event, find out why Hari loves this novel & share your thoughts with your Aerie fam in the comments below.

Why did you choose this book?

Hari: Exquisite Mariposa plunges into the thorny, gorgeous contradictions of moving through young adulthood, the Trump era, the culture industry, love, loss, New York, LA–all as a girl, and maybe even a woman. Exquisite Mariposa pines for the “real” when reality itself has never felt less so. 

What stuck with you after you finished?

Hari: Reading Exquisite Mariposa made me feel less alone, and eager to connect with others. “When I really need help,” says one character, “I keep to myself. I get determined to do it all on my own, too fearful to reach out. And that’s when I’ve gotten really sick.” Since reading Fiona’s novel, I have been more vigilant in reaching out to my loved ones, and in asking for help when I need it. Connection, I’m learning, is wellness.

What do you hope readers will take away from the story?

Hari: I hope readers will feel affirmed and energized by Exquisite Mariposa. Fiona’s prose finds love and light in the grimiest cracks of life, and certainly in the darkest of times. Exquisite Mariposa is provocative and vast, with a way in for everyone.

Did you relate to any of the characters in the book? Tell us why!

Hari: I relate to–or, really, sympathize with–Exquisite Mariposa’s narrator, who also happens to be called Fiona. Over the course of the novel, she comes to terms with the bigness of her feelings, and interrogates the darker slants of her desires. She reckons with the madness of being both a hopeless romantic and a capitalist subject. She divests from outcomes but never surrenders hope.

As you’re reading Exquisite Mariposa or if you already finished it, we want to know what you think! Were your takeaways similar to Hari’s, or was your interpretation of the book different?

  1. Did this book change your definition of “REAL”? What does it mean to you?
  2. Did you relate to any characters in the story?
  3. What stuck with you after you finished?

Now it’s your turn! Comment below & share your thoughts. You can buy the book here or check it out at your local library.

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